Evergreen: Life Flourishes

Renee Ann Smith —  September 15, 2014 — 9 Comments

I don’t think Christmas should ever be perfect.

Maybe because my most treasured Christmas memories seem to be the times when God helped me find joy in the midst of far from perfect circumstances . . .

***Like that winter during my childhood when I was sick for every holiday. Dad carried me outside to see the Christmas lights my brother and sisters had set up. On the way back in, he slipped on the ice and fell, cushioning me with his body.

And I learned that I would always be safe in his arms—no matter how often we failed to see eye-to-eye in later years.

***The first Christmas after my dad died, decorating our mother’s house because she hadn’t the strength. My sisters dragged an ugly Charlie-Brown tree out of the woods and gave it a makeover. The tree made my mother cry, and we cried with her.

And we discovered that we could cry and laugh and eat and live, even though we never stopped missing the one we had lost.

***That time I went Christmas shopping with my best friend of twenty years. She dashed around Walmart on a scooter, spreading smiles and laughter like a holiday elf, and we shared a joy made bittersweet by knowing it was her last Christmas on earth.

And I saw that breast cancer can’t stop a child of God from rejoicing in her Savior—or keep a determined woman from one last shopping spree!

I’m thankful for those Christmases. And also for the ones that were mediocre or boring or left me with a feeling that surely there was more to the holiday—or life—than this. Because they taught me that what our hearts long for will never be satisfied by anyone or anything on earth, by anything less than Christ Himself.

So for me a “real” Christmas is when we’re able to celebrate the coming of the Christ-child no matter what pain or problems plague our hearts.

And isn’t that why Jesus came in the first place? To fill up all those empty places inside us and make something beautiful out of our messy lives.

This is the truth that threads throughout Susan May Warren’s lovely winter novella, Evergreen . . .

Evergreen Susan May Warren“In the wake of good-byes, life endures. Even flourishes.”

(Click to Tweet)

The story focuses on empty-nesters Ingrid & John Christiansen and their efforts to thaw the “chill that has settled over their marriage” by creating the best Christmas ever—even though their adult children are spread far and wide, beloved family members are struggling with heartbreak & abandonment & addictions, and their own hearts have grown cold towards each other & God.

As sad as Ingrid and John’s situation might be, the storyline that sucked me in & had me grabbing for the tissue box involves a beautiful lost boy named Romeo. His hungry heart & sweet spirit change every character—and reader!—he comes in contact with.

Though this novella is short enough to be read in one sitting, it’s impact will last long after finishing that final page and leave you with a few gems to stir your faith & warm your heart. 

And whether or not your church has ever tried to pull together a Living Nativity, you’ll vicariously enjoy the event at the Christiansen’s church!

Evergreen Susan May Warren“Maybe, however, you’re Mary & God is simply asking you to be willing to say yes to whatever He asks.”

(Click to Tweet)

GIFT SUGGESTION: Evergreen would turn a gift basket into something special or be a great stocking stuffer. If you’re gifting a reader, you could pair it with an Amazon gift card or the rest of the Christian Family Series. Good for any age—my high school students LOVE the Christian Family books!

Purchase your copies of the novella at this link. ***Thanks to Susan May Warren & Litfuse PR for providing a copy for me to review.

About the author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels, whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. Susan May WarrenShe served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.

Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists.

In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors.

Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more.

You can connect with SMW

***See my reviews of the Christiansen Family Series at the following links:

I’m truly thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics from iPhone pics—of our church decorated for a winter wedding & my dear friend’s daughter playing Mary in our school chapel a few years ago. And, of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

This week I might be linking up with  Motivation Monday, Playdates with God, The Art of Homemaking Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Inspire Me Monday, The MM&M Monday Link Up, Sharing His Beauty, Mommmy Monday Blog Hop,Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Modest Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Unforced Rhythms, Salt & LightBusy Monday, Tell Me a True Story, Turn It Up Tuesday,Titus 2 Tuesdays,What I Learned This Week, Titus 2sday Link-up, Testimony Tuesday, Raising Homemakers, Imperfect Prose, Worth Casing Ms Mystery Case, Woman to Woman, A Little R&R, Wake Up Wednesday, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Three Word Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Whimsical Wednesday, Capture Your Journey Wednesday, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, Words of Life Wednesday, Coffee for Your Heart, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Mom’s Morning Coffee, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Booknificent Thursday, Tell His Story, Thought Provoking Thursday, From House to Home Link Party, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday,Grace at Home, Little Things Thursday, Christian Connection,Christian Fellowship Friday, Faith-filled Friday Faith & Fellowship Friday,Friendship Friday, Equipping Godly Women, Freedom Friday, Photo Friday, Essential Friday Link-up, Friday Finds, Coffee Date @Dearest Love, Fridays Unfolded, Everyday Jesus, On Your Heart, Anything Goes, Paula’s No Rules Weekend Hop, Blessings Counters, Missional Weekend Link Up, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Soiree, Saturday Situation, Recommendation Saturday, Still Saturday, Beauty Observed, Weekend No Rules Blog Hop, Fresh-brewed Sundays, Sunday Stillness, What I Learned This Month, and The Sunday Community.

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

9 responses to Evergreen: Life Flourishes

  1. I absolutely love this review. I love reading unperfect Christmas stories. After you mentioned it on Twitter, I totally added it to my TBR.

  2. Renee-I loved your Christmas stories-joy in the sadness and pain and rejoicing in celebrating Jesus’ birth. What a beautiful Christmas that would be. The book review sounds lovely and I know it would be one that I would enjoy. Thank you for your honest Christmas reflections and for the the book review. Blessings!

  3. Hi Renee! I’m so happy to visit your site today. I love Christmas stories, especially how God redeems our less than perfect holidays when we set our hearts on Him. Best wishes to your friend Susan with her new novela!

  4. So interesting how the sweetest memories are often the ones mixed with tears. Sadness and joy all tangled together in sweet friendship and family.

  5. I love Christmas novels! Adding this one to my “to read” list. (=

  6. Oh this sounds like a story right up my alley. I love a good Christmas book with a deeper meaning. Definitely adding this to my Christmas holiday list.

  7. This sounds like a great story and a great series. Thanks, I shall be looking out for them in our local Christian book shop.

    Diana

  8. Your stories are beautiful memories! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  9. I am hearing such great things about the Christiansen family! I definitely need to get a hold of this series! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday! Always a pleasure to have you!
    Tina

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